Scottish independence: plan to increase immigration

The First Minister has set out his aim to encourage more immigration, taking the additional total to about 24,000 a year.

First Minister Alex Salmond. Picture: John Devlin

Mr Salmond said average inward net migration was 22,000 in each of the past 10 years.

“I think to increase the working-age population through net migration of 2,000 additional a year compared to experience of the last 10 years is an entirely reasonable prospective, and is very realistic to achieve,” he said.

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Opposition parties dismissed the SNP administration’s proposals.

Scottish Labour finance spokesman Iain Gray said: “It is not credible for Alex Salmond and John Swinney to argue that productivity will increase, employment will soar and loads of workers will flock to Scotland as if by magic without giving any explanation to how this would happen.

“This looks like a desperate attempt to cobble together a counter to the UK Government’s fiscal paper and it leaves the people of Scotland wondering who to believe among a blizzard of contradictory statistics.

“But common sense tells you that if you are sharing and pooling resources with a larger neighbour rather than trying to do everything on your own, then there will be more money available to invest in schools and hospitals without having to raise taxes.”

Scottish Conservative MSP John Lamont said: “This is just another sleight of hand from the Scottish Government in its desperate attempt to shore up the case for independence.

“Their £5 billion figure is based on a number of key assumptions which are complete guesswork. Alex Salmond’s has simply looked into his crystal ball 15 years into the future and plucked this figure out of thin air.

“He has rushed out this paper with a big headline figure hoping to mask the fact they have no idea what the set-up costs would be for creating a new state.

“With just over 100 days until the referendum vote, it is quite astonishing they have no idea of the costs involved in setting up all the new departments and bodies a new nation would need to operate.

“The fact their White Paper contains just a single page of sums to back up the SNP’s case for independence says it all about their attitude to showing how they would pay for independence.”

Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie said: “I can understand the SNP’s passion for independence but they are so keen to win the referendum that they are being wildly optimistic with their calculations. They have used ropey sums on which to hang their threadbare case for independence.

“Only with jiggery-pokery can they reduce the country’s debts to a level that makes their plans look somewhere near acceptable.”